THE SETTLEMENT OF THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY (Contd.)
(2) Selection of the Levitical Cities
Now that the land had been divided among the eleven tribes, and Caleb and Joshua had received their portions, the final allotments were due to the Levites. “But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the offerings made by fire to the LORD, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them.” Provision for their temporal sustenance was already made, but they required somewhere to live and pastureland for their flocks, and this could only be provided once the other tribes had received their inheritance. <21:3; c.f. Num. 18: 1-32; 35: 1-5; Deut. 10: 8-9>.
So by lot the Levites were given their portion from the inheritance of the other tribes. Allotted to the Kohathites were 23 towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon, Benjamin, Ephraim, Dan and the half tribe of Manasseh. To the descendants of Gershon 13 towns from the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and the half tribe of Manasseh: and to the descendants of Merari 12 towns from the tribes of Zebulun, Reuben, and Gad. In all, there were 48 towns allotted to the Levites together with the surrounding pasturelands.
There is a parallel that we see in the New Testament to this support of God’s servants, but it must be carefully observed that there are marked features of contrast as well as similarity.
1 Cor 9:13 Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?
14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (NIV)
The difference is that the preacher of the gospel is not governed by law to receive anything for preaching the gospel message, there is a freedom to “become all things to all men” so as to win people for Christ, and there is no pressure to accept the right of support for preaching the gospel message; “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”